Private Project

Blood Memory

Battles over blood quantum and ‘best interests’ resurface the untold history of America’s Indian Adoption Era - a time when nearly one-third of children were removed from tribal communities nationwide. As political scrutiny over Indian child welfare intensifies, an adoption survivor helps others find their way home through song and ceremony.

  • Sandy White Hawk
    Key Cast
  • Mark Fiddler
    Key Cast
  • Drew Nicholas
  • Megan Whitmer
  • Elizabeth Day
  • Olivia Vaughn
  • Shirley K. Sneve
    Executive Producer & Executive Director, Vision Maker Media
  • Drew Nicholas
  • Jason Elrod
  • Noel Shermaier
  • Bryan Heller
    Camera Department
  • Benedict Baldauff
    Camera Department
  • Doug Michaels
    Camera Department
  • Todd Medema
    Camera Department
  • Bill Stankay
  • Jonathan Thunder
    Graphics & Animation
  • Heid E. Erdrich
    Story Consultants
    "Curator of Ephemera at the New Museum for Archaic Media" - Minnesota Book Award Winner (2018)
  • Kent Nerburn
    Story Consultants
    "Neither Wolf Nor Dog" - Novel trilogy
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Native American, American History, Adoption Story, Memoir, Legal Drama, Educational, Western, Child Removal
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 47 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    February 15, 2019
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • BIG SKY Documentary Film Festival
    Missoula, MT
    United States
    February 18, 2019
  • California American Indian & Indigenous Film Festival
    Temecula, CA
    United States
    February 20, 2020
  • Kansas International Film Festival
    Kansas City, KS
    November 13, 2019
    Kansas Premiere
    WINNER - Audience Choice, Best Doc Feature
  • Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Film Festival
    Minneapolis, MN
    United States
    April 10, 2019
  • Santa Fe Independent Film Festival

    October 18, 2019
    New Mexico Premiere
  • Pocahontas Reframed Film Festival
    Richmond, VA
    United States
    November 24, 2019
  • Black Hills Film Festival

    United States
    May 3, 2019
  • Duluth Superior Film Festival
    Duluth, MN
    June 1, 2019
  • RISE Reconciliation Film Festival
    Edmonton, Alberta
    June 1, 2019
  • Flagstaff Redscreen Film Festival
    Flagstaff, AZ
    July 28, 2019
  • NATIVE POP FESTIVAL Cinema Showcase
    Rapid City, SD
    July 20, 2019
  • Indigenous Film Festival
    Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota
    United States
    August 10, 2019
    Pine Ridge
  • Shining Mountains Film Festival

    October 14, 2019
  • East Lansing Film Festival

    November 3, 2019
  • Red Rose Film Festival

    November 1, 2019
  • Frozen River Film Festival
    Winona, MN
    February 5, 2020
  • Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival
    Bellingham, WA
    February 24, 2020
    Washington State
Director Biography - Drew Nicholas

DIRECTOR/PRODUCER Drew Nicholas co-founded the film collective In Medias Res, for which he performs many tasks from concept to completion, including co-producing the micro-budget feature "I’m A Stranger Here Myself" and producing video content that helped raise over $420,000 to preserve the Pittsburgh community landmark Kraynick’s Bike Shop. Drew’s films have been recognized by Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, Minneapolis-St.Paul International Film Festival, New Filmmakers: New York, the Sprout Fund, Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments. In addition to independent filmmaking Drew also works as a Location Scout/Manager on industry productions such as the Netflix Original Series "Mindhunter" and AnnaPurna’s "Foxcatcher". He earned a B.A. in Cinema and Digital Arts from Point Park University and studied creative writing/poetry at Naropa University. “Blood Memory” is Drew’s feature film debut.

PRODUCER Megan Whitmer specializes in events and media production for nonprofit and community enterprises and is currently producing the 2019 documentary feature "Blood Memory" with support from Vision Maker Media and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Her nonprofit development work includes donor management and outreach initiatives for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, media production and a fundraising gala for the Friendship Circle of Pittsburgh, and the execution of national conferences for member-organizations including the National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition. Megan holds an M.A. in Rhetoric & Philosophy of Communication from Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit and a B.A. in Communication from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania.

PRODUCER Elizabeth Day (Ojibwe) was born on the Leech Lake Reservation and raised in the Twin Cities. Elizabeth blends her Native American heritage with her urban upbringing to create films that employ traditional Ojibwe-style storytelling while using contemporary filmmaking techniques. Her work often explores the tension between traditional Native teachings and the life of a modern, urban Indian. Elizabeth was an Associate Producer on the PBS Documentary Black Gold Boom, and her short directorial work has been recognized by the Tribeca All Access Connects program, Minnesota State Artist Board, the National Museum of the American Indian, and the Bush Artist Fellowship. Elizabeth currently works as a Community Organizer for the Native American Community Development Institute, as well as a Project Manager and Video Director for Wiigwaas Press in Minneapolis, MN.

CO-PRODUCER Olivia Vaughn is a staff producer for the Sundance award-winning production company, Animal, where she helps to cultivate award-winning commercial and documentary projects. In 2016, she produced the documentary feature Fursonas, a humanistic exploration of the Furry subculture, which won the Spirit of Slamdance award, and was distributed to notable streaming channels worldwide. Olivia also produced four Vimeo Staff Pick shorts (The John Show - 2017, Voices - 2017, Echo Torch - 2016, Alone - 2016), and served as VFX coordinator for the ABC sitcom Downward Dog. Through her production experience, she has gained the support and trust of regional nonprofits, including The Sprout Fund and Steeltown Entertainment.

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Director Statement

The title “Blood Memory” is derived from the concept that the experiences of one generation are passed onto the next through DNA. Future generations live with the shared knowledge of their ancestors - meaning there is a foundation of survival instinct and cultural identity that exists within us prior to learned experience. In many ways, this is a beautiful and poetic concept, but trauma and abuse can also be transferred intergenerationally, sometimes unknown to the carrier. This film is about acknowledging and honoring all aspects of blood memory, and how we as individuals and community members heal our collective traumas and learn to pass positive ancestral knowledge to the next generation.

“Blood Memory" is an nine-year documentary film and outreach project produced with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vision Maker Media, The Pittsburgh Foundation/Heinz Endowments, Sinte Gleska University, and the Sicangu Nation.